Featured Apps: TV Wherever You Go
Watch your favorite shows on your BlackBerry smartphone
I'll admit it. I'm a TV junkie. But I'm also on the road a lot. And while my home DVR snatches up the shows I miss when I travel, if I've been on the road for a week, I'll never catch up with everything I've saved.
If you're like me, you have hours and hours of shows recorded that you'll never watch. If you’re like me, you probably also find yourself with downtime—the commute to work, a flight to see a client—that would be perfect for relaxing and watching some TV.
Recently, I've been experimenting with a variety of TV and video applications. While there are numerous options to check out at BlackBerry App World™, including apps that allow you to use your smartphone as a remote or watch programming from particular channels, the four apps described below provide a wide range of functionality and have allowed me to watch my favorite programs—and much more.
The first app I checked out—and still one of my favorites—is MobiTV. With it, I can watch about 40 channels of live or made-for-mobile channels. It's a bit like cable TV for your smartphone, in that programs are streamed live to your device. In addition to standard broadcast channels such as ABC, CBS, and NBC, there are also specialized channels developed specifically for the mobile platform. The specific channel lineup depends on your wireless carrier, and the service isn't available with all carriers yet.
While live TV was a pretty big selling point on its own, rumor has it that the amount of programming is set to expand next year and will include live concerts and sports events, as well as the ability to time shift programming. MobiTV isn't available through BlackBerry App World yet, but you can download it here. The app is currently available in North America and some regions of Central America. MobiTV costs U.S. $9.99/month.
PrimeTime2Go offers programming from a similar collection of broadcasters (though it's not exactly the same), but it differs from MobiTV by not streaming shows to your TV. Instead, you select programs that interest you and download them to your smartphone. Because you are downloading content, you’ll need an external memory card—the bigger, the better, if you want to carry a large number of programs. I found PrimeTime2Go particularly useful for situations in which streaming content live wasn’t possible, such as on flights and my morning subway commute.
Additionally, I can set the service to automatically download episodes of my favorite shows soon after their original air dates, so I always have a queue of shows ready to watch. You can download the app for free here, which will allow you to browse show listings, but to download shows, you'll have to pay a $7.99 monthly subscription. PrimeTime2Go is available only in the United States.
TiVo for BlackBerry smartphones
The TiVo app doesn't let you watch TV programs on your BlackBerry smartphone, but it's plenty useful all the same. With it, you can view the TiVo program guide; search for programs by keyword, actor/director, or title; and browse programs by category, ratings, or TiVo's daily picks. Primarily, though, I use TiVo® for BlackBerry® smartphones to schedule programs to be recorded, whether once or for an entire season. I can also select which of my DVRs will record the program (yes, I have more than one). The TiVo app is perfect for the times I'm out of town (or having a late night at work) and forgot to set the DVR to capture the latest episode of Heroes.
You'll need to sign in to TiVo from the app to use it, but TiVo for BlackBerry smartphones itself is free from BlackBerry App World.
Movela Netflix Queue Manager
This app doesn't bring videos to your home—but it does simplify watching Netflix movies on your TV. If you stream movies to your TV via the Netflix set-top box, you can use the Netflix Queue Manager app on your BlackBerry smartphone as a global remote. You can search the Netflix movie library, as well as manage your DVD and instant queues. Netflix Queue Manager is available only to U.S.-based Netflix subscribers. You can get the app here.
To learn more about using your BlackBerry smartphone as a remote, click here.
More to Come?
Between being able to stream live programming and having a dozen or so shows on my memory card, I'm never lacking for something to watch. Still, I'm looking forward to the expanded programming coming from both MobiTV and PrimeTime2Go, particularly the possibility of more live sports on my phone, so I never have to miss a game.